This is an article reprint from the International Medical & Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA).
There are many misconceptions about hypnosis: Hypnosis is surrounded by myths, misconceptions. People find it fascinating, or frightening, depending on what they have heard and what they believe. Hollywood continues to portray hypnosis as a “power” which can be used to control the minds and wills of other people. Nothing could be further from the truth.
A closer examination of hypnosis, its history and attributes reveals a much more balanced picture of what hypnosis is, what it can be used to accomplish, and what it cannot do. Let’s begin with some facts.Hypnosis is not a “power” held by the hypnotist. Hypnosis is a state of mind, created by the generation of particular brainwave frequencies. Your state of consciousness at any given time is determined by the types of brainwaves you are creating at that moment. If you are wide awake, alert,and thinking critically, you are in a beta brainwave state.
If you can remember a time when you were very focused, such as reading a great book or watching a movie, that is likely a time when your brainwaves had slowed down to an alpha brainwave state. And if you have ever lain in bed thinking, I’m not quite awake and I’m not quite asleep, that is called the hypnogogic state, and this happens when you are producing alpha and theta brainwaves. When this is understood, hypnosis can be correctly seen as a natural state of mind, which we are all in a few times each day whether or not we recognize it as such. Hypnotists or hypnotherapists, then, are just people who have learned how to create the right circumstances to help their clients go into this brainwave state we call hypnosis.
They don’t hold any special powers that you yourself could not learn by studying the same information. Much as you go to a dentist because they have dedicated years to studying how to care for your teeth, when you choose a good hypnotherapist you are hiring a specialist who has invested in years of education to help you not only reach the state of hypnosis, but use the special characteristics of that state to create positive changes in your life. In fact, hypnosis has been accepted by the American Medical Association as a mode of treatment for various issues since 1958. Some people fear that their minds will be controlled, but this is the opposite of the truth. You are actually more in control when you are in hypnosis than you are in your waking, or beta, state. You will never do anything in hypnosis that goes against your will, your values or your morals. This is why hypnosis is so safe.
In fact, hypnosis is so safe, that the state of California has twice refused to license hypnosis professionals, stating that “hypnosis poses no threat to the public,” and therefore no licensing oversight is needed. The idea that you can get stuck in hypnosis is also a misconception. No one has ever been stuck in hypnosis. From time to time, people do decide to stay in hypnosis longer than the hypnotist wants them to, but this is actually a choice being made by the client, albeit at a subconscious level. This choice is usually made because hypnosis is so comfortable and relaxing that the person just doesn’t want to leave it yet. A skilled hypnotherapist knows how to deal with this situation, and there is no danger posed to the client. Many people think that hypnosis feels “weird” or somehow special and different.
This is another misconception. Most of the time, hypnosis just feels like you are relaxing with your eyes closed. Your body may feel more relaxed than usual, but you are able to hear the hypnotherapist, and you are aware of what is happening during your session. Most people say, “I could have opened my eyes and gotten up at any time.” Yes, you can — but you don’t want to. As stated earlier, you are in control in hypnosis. It is also a myth that you need to be in a deep state of hypnosis, or trance, to achieve results. A light state of hypnosis is all that is required to achieve many of the benefits available through hypnosis.
Hypnosis is a natural state of mind, a brainwave state that everyone is in on a daily basis. Hollywood and popular culture have created unfortunate myths and misconceptions around hypnosis. Sometimes these misconceptions get in the way of people using an AMA approved resource to create changes and improvements in their lives. Hopefully with more information and education, and the many excellent scientific studies that are being conducted on hypnosis, these misconceptions will become a thing of the past and going to the hypnotherapist will become as commonplace as seeing the dentist.